Posts Tagged ‘Kim Jong Un’

North Korea leader unlikely to visit Seoul this month

December 13, 2018

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s return visit to Seoul appears unlikely to take place this month, a senior South Korean official said.

Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in had agreed on Kim’s visit to Seoul “in the near future” following their September summit in Pyongyang. Moon later said that Kim would come “within this year.”

Kim’s possible trip to Seoul has been the focus of media attention in South Korea in the past two weeks.

FILE – In this April 27, 2018 file photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in stroll together at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, South Korea. A senior South Korean official says it’s unlikely that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will visit Seoul this month. After a September summit in Pyongyang, Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in agreed on Kim’s return visit to Seoul “in the near future.” Kim’s possible trip to Seoul has been the focus of media attention in the past days. The presidential Blue House on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018, quoted senior presidential adviser Yoon Young-chan as saying that Kim’s visit within this year is “difficult.” (Korea Summit Press Pool via AP, File) (Associated Press)

The presidential Blue House on Thursday quoted senior presidential adviser Yoon Young-chan as saying in a text message to local reporters on Wednesday that Kim’s visit this year was “difficult.”

Yoon said Kim’s trip early next year was still possible.

Experts say Kim is reluctant to come because of stalled nuclear negotiations with the United States and worries about security arrangements in the South.

If Kim does visit Seoul, he will become the first North Korean leader to do so since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. The Koreas are divided by the world’s most heavily fortified border, and about 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea to deter potential aggression from North Korea.

Kim and Moon have taken a series of steps to reduce military tensions and boost ties this year. But they find it difficult to launch economic cooperation projects as the United States says it will maintain international sanctions on the North until it completes its nuclear disarmament.

The negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea have produced no major breakthrough since Kim’s summit with President Donald Trump in Singapore in June.

Associated Press



Japan, US silent over ending ballistic missile patrols

December 12, 2018

Both have reason to keep mum as the move would shift the defense burden and alarm Russia and China

 DECEMBER 12, 2018 6:36 PM (UTC+8)

The land-based Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, interceptor is one of the alternatives being discussed. Photo: AFP/Missile Defense Agency

The land-based Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, interceptor is one of the alternatives being discussed. Photo: AFP/Missile Defense Agency

Kim Jong Un unlikely to visit South Korea before end of the year, Moon’s office says

December 12, 2018

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is not expected to visit the South before the end of the year, South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s office said Wednesday.

Kim may still travel to Seoul in January for what could mark the first trip by any North Korean leader to the South’s capital, presidential spokesman Yoon Young-chan said in a text message. Yonhap News reported earlier that South Korea ruled out any visit by the North Korean leader to Seoul this month.

Image result for Moon Jae-in, Kim Jong Un, photo, lake,

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (second from right) and his wife, Kim Jung-sook (right), stand with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his wife, Ri Sol Ju, on Mount Paektu in North Korea on Sept. 20. | POOL / VIA AP

For several weeks, South Korea has been abuzz with rumors and speculation about Kim’s possible trip to the South, with groups for and against him holding rallies on the streets of Seoul.

In September, South Korea’s president met Kim in Pyongyang and agreed to host him in Seoul before year’s end, a move resisted by other North Korean leaders due to security concerns.

The two Koreas have taken a number of steps to improve their ties and resume inter-Korean exchanges, including holding three summits, in a dramatic shift from last year when North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests brought the Korean Peninsula to the brink of conflict.

Nuclear negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea have stalled in recent weeks as North Korea canceled a high-level meeting with American officials at the last minute and doubts have been raised about a second summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump.

Thank You, John Kelly

December 11, 2018

Trump seems to think he can be his own chief of staff.


The Wall Street Journal
Dec. 10, 2018 7:05 p.m. ET


Image result for John Kelly, photos

There are many unpleasant jobs in the world, but somebody has to do them. One is being Donald Trump’s chief of staff, and so as he prepares to be liberated from White House bondage this month, John Kelly deserves the nation’s gratitude.

Mr. Trump on Saturday announced the former general’s departure “at the end of the year,” after the typical death by a thousand White House whispers. “I appreciate his service very much,” Mr. Trump said, and he certainly should.

The former homeland security secretary took the chief’s job in summer 2017 when Mr. Trump needed someone to restore order after the Steve Bannon-Reince Priebus rivalry to nowhere. He tried to establish order in the President’s schedule and meetings, to the extent that is possible, as well as a regular process for policy deliberations. Mr. Kelly did that well enough, and long enough, that the White House could negotiate tax reform.

But Mr. Trump hates discipline, especially self-discipline, and so he has chafed under Mr. Kelly’s regimen. The wonder is that Mr. Kelly has lasted as long as he has considering the verbal abuse he has so often taken from his boss. The chief has also taken unwarranted abuse from the Beltway political class that wants to stigmatize anyone who works for Mr. Trump, as if it would be better if the White House were run solely by the Trump family.

A serious question is why anyone would take the job. Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Nick Ayers, turned it down despite being the favorite of daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner. Perhaps the 36-year-old Mr. Ayers concluded that even having that title on his résumé isn’t worth the grief he’d take externally and from the President. White House budget director Mick Mulvaney would be ideal, but he doesn’t want it either.

Mr. Trump has alienated so many people that he may not have the option of a strong outsider like Mr. Kelly or his former economic adviser Gary Cohn. He may have to settle for someone who operates from within the Trump-defined reality of Trump vs. the world but with enough competence to impose some order. Mr. Trump’s chaotic style is so outside management norms that we hesitate to suggest any names.

Yet Mr. Trump needs someone because he is entering the most perilous months of his Presidency. Robert Mueller is likely to file a report that could tee up impeachment by a Democratic House. Mr. Trump needs to negotiate a trade deal with China that can overcome the stark policy differences on his staff. He faces a moment of truth with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un on nuclear weapons.

Mr. Trump will also have to sail a policy course without the conservative keel of House Republicans. He’ll need GOP support to survive the Democratic investigative onslaught. But his daughter and Mr. Kushner may urge him to accept center-left proposals like mandatory family leave or price controls on drugs.

Oh, and Mr. Trump has only a few months to repair his standing with the public—especially suburban women and independents—to have a chance at re-election. Any volunteers?

North Korea Expands Long-Range Missile Base, Analysts Say

December 7, 2018

Pyongyang is also still producing nuclear weapons, according to researchers studying satellite images, casting a new shadow over disarmament talks

Related image



SEOUL—North Korea is expanding military facilities thought to house long-range missiles that can hit the U.S., according to a think-tank report that revives doubts about the regime’s sincerity in disarmament negotiations.

Pyongyang is still producing nuclear weapons and appears to be upgrading a missile base near the Chinese border, according to the analysis by the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, Calif., based on satellite imagery taken in recent months.

“The missile base at Yeongjeo-dong has long been a concern to U.S. and South Korean officials because of its unique location,” the report said, referring to the border site, which it said is likely to receive the North’s latest weapons.

Seven miles away, North Korea has been building new facilities that appear to be either another missile base or an expansion of the Yeongjeo-dong facility, said the Middlebury analysis, first reported by CNN.

The U.S. Embassy in Seoul declined to comment.

U.S. officials have questioned whether North Korea is serious about giving up nuclear weapons as negotiations falter due to disagreements over U.S.-led sanctions and the pace of North Korean disarmament.

North Korea insists it has made significant concessions, including dismantling a missile launch site and a nuclear-weapons test site, and has called for the lifting of sanctions that ban or limit its trade in coal, textiles and raw materials. Washington has refused to ease sanctions until Pyongyang takes more concrete steps toward denuclearization.

Expansion of the Yeongjeo-dong site wouldn’t necessarily violate the agreement that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Trump reached in Singapore in June.

The deal obliges both sides to pursue new relations and “to work toward complete denuclearization”—vague phrases that were drafted by Pyongyang officials, according to a former senior North Korean official who defected to the South. The lack of specifics in the agreement has given diplomats room to negotiate, but also failed to bridge fundamental disagreements between the sides.

The U.S., though, has kept open the possibility of another summit between the two leaders, which Mr. Trump has said could take place early in the new year.

Meanwhile, warming inter-Korean relations are complicating the nuclear calculus.

South Korea has been urging Washington to accept some North Korean demands for a partial lifting of sanctions. Such a step would allow for renewed economic engagement between North and South, a goal of South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

But the South Korean leader has been cautious not to get too far out ahead of his U.S. ally. In a meeting with Mr. Trump last weekend, Mr. Moon expressed continued support for sanctions on Pyongyang, according to his spokesman.

Meanwhile, the U.S. and South Korea have worked to ease tensions with Pyongyang by scaling back joint military exercises this week. North Korea likewise toned down its usual criticism of the maneuvers, only briefly calling the exercises a “dangerous” move in a short article on its state media.

Write to Andrew Jeong at

This is Trump’s Major Foreign Policy Crisis: Trump Will Have To Confront China and Russia

December 6, 2018

The U.S.-China trade dispute went from bad to worse, despite Donald Trump’s crowing Tweets.

The arrest in Canada of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of the company’s founder, Ren Zhengfei, is no accident.

Ren Zhengfei is a former Chinese military specialist and a close friend of Xi Jinping.

Huawei has been at the center of China’s controversial Made in China 2025 technology dominance drive.

Image result for donald trump, photos

That effort, intelligence sources say, has become a “succeed at any cost” Chinese government program to buy, steal or otherwise obtain whatever technology it needed to win.

Meng Wanzhou even spoke to Huawei  corporate staff about the necessity to sometimes ignore national laws outside China in an effort some call “China First.”

Meng Wanzhou was arrested on the request of the U.S. Justice Department while she was in Canada. She is allegedly to be charged with working to violate U.S. sanctions on Iran.

“The securitate are in charge now,” said Duncan Clark, chairman of technology consultancy BDA China.

If all that isn’t enough, many are wondering how much Xi Jinping is helping Kim Jong Un in North Korea avoid sanctions.

Meanwhile, Putin’s Russia continues to hold Ukrainian Navy sailors and vessels seized November 25, 2018 in the Black Sea and Kerch Strait — a violation of international law that has been largely ignored.

Donald Trump will have to decide if, when and how to more directly confront both China and Russia if international law is to stand and have any meaning at all. He is being tested now, and the global stock markets seem to be sensing a very ugly future — and the end of Trumpism will surely follow — if China and Russia are ignored much longer.

Donald Trump seemed to want to make Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping his friends. Now it should be clear that they are both his adversaries. And the world is wondering how much more trickery the United States can tolerate before it takes decisive action to counter these adversaries.

John Francis Carey
Peace and Freedom



China, U.S. Trade Complicated by South China Sea, Taiwan Other Factors

December 6, 2018

Image result for Kim Jong Un, Xi Jinping, photos, dalien

  • The ongoing trade dispute between Washington and Beijing is as much about the South China Sea and Taiwan as it is about China’s technological practices, according to the University of Arizona’s Jeffrey Kucik.
  • A lasting resolution to the trade war could require multiple compromises on these areas, he argued.
  • Others warn that foreign policy matters could be affected as a result of President Donald Trump’s trade policies.


Chinese President Xi Jinping and members of Chinese delegation attend a working dinner with U.S. President Donald Trump after the G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina December 1, 2018. 

Kevin Lemarque | Reuters
Chinese President Xi Jinping and members of Chinese delegation attend a working dinner with U.S. President Donald Trump after the G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina December 1, 2018.

Trade frictions between the world’s two largest economies go well beyond the parameters of imports and exports.

Washington has been attempting to negotiate with Beijing about issues like forced tech transfers and intellectual property theft, but there’s a growing sense among international analysts that talks may also be touching on other deep-rooted issues in their relationship, particularly on the national security and military front.

The ongoing spat is a reflection of great power rivalries, political scientist Joseph Nye wrote in a Project Syndicate editorial last month: “It is much more than a typical trade dispute like, say, America’s recent clash with Canada over access to that country’s dairy market.”

Many economists have pointed out that the current dispute is more of a tech war than a tariff war as U.S. President Donald Trump’sadministration targets China’s technology sector practices. Beijing’s militarization of the South China Sea and the sovereignty of Taiwan could also be influencing negotiations.

More than just trade

“Clearly, there’s some recognition that there’s more at stake than trade,” said Jeffrey Kucik, assistant professor of political science at the University of Arizona. “There are now so many issues at play, it’s not clear how to alleviate tensions.”

One of the issues, he argued, is U.S. interference in the South China Sea and Taiwan — which Beijing considers internal matters.

Trump claims victory after trade truce with China’s Xi Jinping  

Washington’s arm sales to Taipei this year have angered Chinese officials who oppose countries pursuing relations with the East Asian island. According to the One China Policy, Taiwan and mainland China are considered part of the same territory. Xi’s administration has also been angered by U.S. naval patrols in the South China Sea. The country claims nearly all of the international waterway despite competing claims from neighboring Asian countries.

The fact that China’s statement on this past weekend’s temporary tariff ceasefire highlighted Trump’s promise to respect the One China Policy — something not mentioned in the White House’s version — reveals the importance Beijing attaches to its national interests, Kucik said.

A lasting resolution to the trade war will require multiple compromises on such matters, the professor continued. For Xi’s administration, “trade takes a back seat to territory,” according to Kucik.

Former PBOC governor on tech, bitcoin and the US-China relationship

Former PBOC governor on tech, bitcoin and the US-China relationship  

Others, however, disagree with that argument.

It is certainly clear that the White House views Beijing as a strategic competitor beyond the realms of trade, said Patrick Lozada, director of Albright Stonebridge Group’s China practices. But those matters don’t have any bearing on the trade spat, he warned: “The current dynamic of tit for tat trade actions is not related to other non-trade issues.”

Hong Kong economist Lawrence Lau from the Chinese University of Hong Kong echoed that view, arguing that the South China Sea and Taiwan weren’t factors in the trade war.

Trade influencing foreign policy

Some experts warned that foreign policy matters will be affected as a result of Trump’s hard-line trade policies.

Because of the president’s “counterproductive approach” to resolving the bilateral trade deficit, the South China Sea and Taiwan issues could grow more problematic, said Jeffrey Kingston, director of Asian studies at Tokyo-based Temple University.

Trump has ensured that Xi will now also be less helpful on North Korea thanks to the U.S. leader’s “usual grandstanding and misleading representations” of trade negotiations, Kingston warned.

When it comes to the trade spat, “there are many outstanding issues to deal with and one would hope they are not segregated or asserted as issues that must be resolved before anything else gets addressed,” the academic continued.

The trade turmoil has already spilled into military relations as the two superpowers scale down high-level security engagements. The bilateral defense alliance could now remain at a deadlock until progress is made on the trade front.

Growing split in Seoul over North Korea threatens Korea detente, nuclear talks

December 5, 2018

When Seoul was preparing to open a liaison office in the North Korean city of Kaesong this summer after a decade of virtually no contact with its longtime enemy, South Korean officials had heated debates over whether they should seek approval from Washington.

Image result for Moon Jae-in, Kim Jong Un photos

Some top aides to President Moon Jae-in stressed it was an issue for the two Koreas alone and there was no need to involve their U.S. ally, two people with knowledge of the situation told Reuters.

But to the surprise of several officials at the meeting, Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon argued Washington must be consulted because Seoul’s plans might run afoul of sanctions imposed on North Korea over its nuclear weapons program.

South Korean President Still Hopes to Host Kim Jong Un This Year

Two dozen countries including the Britain, Germany and Sweden already have embassies in Pyongyang, and other officials saw the proposed liaison office as a far lower-level of contact with the North.

Explainer: South Korea’s unique Unification Ministry has thorny task of handling ties with North

And they certainly did not expect Cho to be a leading advocate of strict enforcement of sanctions. Cho was Moon’s personal choice to head the ministry, whose prime mission is to foster reconciliation, cooperation and eventual reunification with the North.

Cho, whose 30 year public service history has been inextricably linked to reunification, was even sacked from the ministry in 2008 over his “dovish” stance toward Pyongyang.

At the suggestion of Cho and senior diplomats, Seoul ultimately sought U.S. consent before opening the office in September, one of the sources said.

All the sources spoke to condition of anonymity due to sensitivity of the matter.

Cho declined to comment for this article, but a senior official at the Unification Ministry said it was aware of criticisms of Cho.

“Inter-Korean ties are unique in their nature, but it’s been difficult, and there’s North Korea’s duplicity. It’s a dilemma we face, or our fate,” the official said, asking not to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.


The previously unreported debate among Moon’s top officials illustrates a growing divide within South Korea over how to progress relations with the North while keeping Washington on side.

Some corners of the administration argue Seoul can’t afford to be seen veering from the U.S.-led sanctions and pressure campaign until Pyongyang gives up its nuclear weapons program, while others feel closer inter-Korean ties can help expedite the stalled diplomatic process, several officials close to the situation say.

“If the internal rift leads to moving too quickly with the North without sufficient U.S. consultations, it could pose a setback to not only the nuclear talks but also the alliance and inter-Korean relations,” said Shin Beom-chul, a senior fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul.

After the inter-Korean thaw gave way to reconciliation efforts between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump earlier this year, Trump asked Moon to be “chief negotiator” between the two.

That task has become increasingly difficult as Washington and Pyongyang blame each other for the faltering nuclear talks.

U.S. officials insist punishing sanctions must remain until North Korea completely denuclearises. North Korea says it has already made concessions by dismantling key facilities and Washington must reciprocate by easing sanctions and declaring an end to the 1950-53 Korean War.

“Unlike other advisers, Minister Cho has balanced his staunch desire for peace with an understanding of the importance of retaining a strong South Korea-U.S. alignment,” said Patrick Cronin of the Centre for a New American Security, an Asia expert in close touch with both U.S. and South Korean officials.

“Some alliance discord is inevitable and not worrisome. What would be worrisome would be a clear rupture in South Korea-U.S. approaches for managing North Korea.”

The presidential Blue House declined to comment, but Moon told reporters on Monday the view that there was discord between South Korea and the United States was “groundless” because there is no difference in the two countries’ positions on the North’s denuclearization.


A third source familiar with the presidential office’s thinking said there was mounting frustration with Cho within the Blue House and even inside the Unification Ministry amid concerns he worried too much about U.S. views.

“What the president would want from him as the unification minister is to come up with bold ideas to make his pet initiatives happen,” the source said.

During three summits this year, Moon and Kim agreed to re-link railways and roads, and when conditions are met, restart the joint factory park in Kaesong and tours to the North’s Mount Kumgang resort that have been suspended for years.

None of those plans have made much headway, either because sanctions ban them outright, or as in the case of Kaesong, Seoul took time to convince skeptical U.S. officials that cross-border projects wouldn’t undermine sanctions.

North Korea itself has been an unpredictable partner. Discussions through the Kaesong office have been few and far between, with Pyongyang’s negotiators often failing to show up for scheduled weekly meetings without notice, Unification Ministry officials say.

Even so, the Kaesong move has caused tensions with Washington.

U.S. officials told Seoul that South Korea’s explanations on the Kaesong office were not “satisfactory,” the South’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha told a parliamentary hearing in August.

Full Coverage: North Korea revealed 

Washington was also caught off guard when a group of businessmen who used to operate factories in the now-closed Kaesong industrial park were invited for the opening ceremony of the office, a diplomatic source in Seoul said.

The allies launched a working group last month led by their nuclear envoys to coordinate North Korean policy. It was borne out of U.S. desire to “keep inter-Korean relations in check,” the source said.

Asked about the Kaesong office, a U.S. State Department official said: “We expect all member states to fully implement U.N. sanctions, including sectoral goods banned under UN Security Council resolution, and expect all nations to take their responsibilities seriously to help end (North Korea’s) illegal nuclear and missile programs.”

Another State official said the United States endorsed April’s inter-Korean summit agreement during its own summit with North Korea “because progress on inter-Korean relations must happen in lockstep with progress on denuclearization.”

Last month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Cho in Washington, bluntly warning him that inter-Korean cooperation and progress on nuclear negotiations should “remain aligned.”


Even as he faced pressure from Washington to hold a tough line, Cho was being criticized for dragging his feet on reconciliation.

In May, the North called off planned talks with the South led by Cho in protest against U.S.-South Korean air combat exercises. When the meeting eventually took place, Cho’s counterpart, Ri Son Gwon, openly blamed Cho for having caused a “grave situation” that resulted in the cancellation of the talks.

At the Kaesong office opening, factory owners pressed Cho to reopen the complex and said they were dismayed at the Unification Ministry for repeatedly rejecting requests to visit the border city to check on equipment and facilities idled since the 2016 shutdown.

“We’ve expressed, directly and indirectly, our complaint that the minister may be too lukewarm about our requests, even though allowing the trip has nothing to do with sanctions,” said Shin Han-yong, who chairs a group of businessmen with plants in Kaesong.

Cho recently told the parliament the delays are due to scheduling issues with the North, adding the ministry “needs more time to explain the overall circumstances” to the international community.

Shin, the expert at Asan, warned any move to undermine sanctions may expose South Korean companies to risks of punishment.

After Moon and Kim’s summit in Pyongyang in September, a senior U.S. Treasury official called compliance officers at seven South Korean banks to warn them that resuming financial cooperation with North Korea “does not align with U.S. policies” and the banks must comply with U.N. and U.S. financial sanctions, according to a South Korean regulatory document.

“Realistically we have no option but to consider U.S. positions, as the top priority is the North’s denuclearization and the United States has the biggest leverage on that,” said Kim Hyung-suk, who served as vice unification minister until last year.

“Without progress on the nuclear issues, there would be constraints at some point in sustaining inter-Korean ties. And Minister Cho knows that.”

Editing by Soyoung Kim and Lincoln Feast.


Trump Wants Another Meeting With North Korea’s Kim Jong Un

December 2, 2018


US President Donald Trump said Saturday he hoped to organize a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in early 2019, perhaps as soon as January or February.

Trump told reporters traveling home to Washington with him aboard Air Force One from Argentina that “three sites” were in consideration for the meeting, a follow-up to their historic summit in Singapore in June.

When asked about a future meeting, Trump said: “I think we’re going to do one fairly (soon) — into January, February, I think.”

Trump had been in Buenos Aires for the Group of 20 summit.

When asked Saturday if he would ever host Kim in the United States, the Republican president replied: “At some point, yeah.”

© Korea Summit Press Pool/AFP/File | North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un (L) and South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in have met three times in 2018 — the first was in April at the truce village of Panmunjom but they first shook hands at the Military Demarcation Line dividing their nations

In June, Trump and Kim opened up dialogue on denuclearization of the Korean peninsula after months of trading military threats and pointed barbs.

The two leaders signed a vaguely worded document on denuclearization of the peninsula, but progress since has stalled as Washington and Pyongyang spar over the meaning of the document.

North Korea has taken few concrete steps to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was due to meet with a top North Korean official in early November, but the meeting was abruptly put off, with North Korea insisting that Washington ease sanctions.

On Friday, Trump discussed the situation with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on the sidelines of the G20 summit.

The pair “reaffirmed their commitment to achieve the final, fully verified denuclearization” of North Korea, Trump’s spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.

They agreed on the need for “maintaining vigorous enforcement of existing sanctions to ensure the DPRK understands that denuclearization is the only path,” Sanders said, using the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

– Kim visit to Seoul this year? –

But differences have emerged between Washington and Seoul on how to proceed with Kim, as the dovish Moon has long favored engagement with the North.

North and South Korea have begun to remove landmines and destroy military bunkers at parts of their common border as part of efforts to improve long-strained relations.

They have also begun work to reconnect a train line and repair another rail link across the border.

Despite the warming ties, it remains unclear whether Kim will make his first-ever visit to the South this year, as Seoul is hoping.

Kim agreed to travel to Seoul after hosting Moon in Pyongyang in September for their third summit this year.

But prospects of a fourth Moon-Kim meeting have recently dimmed, with negotiations on denuclearizing the North grinding to a halt.

In his talks with Trump in Argentina, Moon earned some support for the Seoul summit from the US leader — perhaps in a bid to entice Kim to make good on his pledge.

The two leaders said Kim’s visit to the South Korean capital “would provide additional momentum to their joint efforts to establish peace on the Korean peninsula,” Moon’s press secretary Yoon Young-chan said.


Trump’s efforts to unblock China trade impasse hinge on Xi summit

November 30, 2018

Image result for donald trump, Xi Jinping, photos

Leaders to meet for dinner at this weekend’s G20 gathering in Buenos Aires Donald Trump has made the trade war with China a defining feature of his presidency

By James Politi in Buenos Aires

Donald Trump on Thursday summed up his conflicting feelings about a possible deal on trade with China’s Xi Jinping ahead of their meeting over dinner at this weekend’s G20 summit in Buenos Aires. “I think we are very close to doing something with China,” the US president told reporters before leaving the White House for Argentina.

“But I don’t know that I want to do it.”

There have been plenty of pivotal moments in Mr Trump’s presidency, from his Eiffel Tower meal with Emmanuel Macron, to his summit with Russia’s Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, to the historic tête-à-tête in Singapore with Kim Jong Un, the North Korean dictator. Yet the meeting with Mr Xi on Saturday evening could eclipse them all, and Mr Trump can ill-afford any perception of failure.

The US leader has made the trade war with China a defining feature of his presidency by vowing to rebalance the economic relationship between the countries in a way that had eluded previous US administrations — laying the groundwork for a revival of American industry.

Chinese and US officials have discussed holding a further round of talks if the two leaders can achieve a truce, with Liu He, China’s vice-premier and lead trade negotiator, ready to head a delegation to Washington next month. But as he prepares for his showdown with Mr Xi, Mr Trump is on the defensive.

His Republican party suffered big losses in the House of Representatives in midterm elections— a warning sign for his 2020 re-election bid. In addition, his former lawyer just pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about a Russian real estate deal in charges brought by special prosecutor Robert Mueller.

Meanwhile, the costs of the protectionist policies he has employed to pressure Mr Xi are beginning to mount.

I suspect that Donald Trump will be satisfied either way — he’s happy doing deals with the Chinese, and he’s happy bashing the Chinese

Danielle Pletka, American Enterprise Institute

This week, General Motors, the largest US carmaker, announced sweeping lay-offs and plant closures, partly blaming Mr Trump’s tariffs.

Many other US businesses are complaining about mounting costs, and warning that they could not sustain a further escalation in the trade conflict.  “He’s had nothing but bad news at home so he’s going to be looking for a victory,” said one former White House official who is following the talks.

“And we’re well aware of his ability to manufacture victory out of nothing.”

Mr Trump and administration officials have mostly been talking tough ahead of the summit, saying that Beijing has yet to make any real concessions in the trade talks, downplaying the prospects of a meaningful deal and even threatening new levies. In a separate tweet before boarding Air Force One on Thursday, Mr Trump said the tariffs on China had a “long way to go”.

But the White House is not concealing the importance of the summit itself. It was Mr Trump who relaunched stalled negotiations with a November 1 call to Mr Xi, setting the stage for the Argentine moment of truth.  “This is a big deal, this meeting, and the stakes are very high,” said Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council.

“President Trump has a terrific record as a negotiator, and he will know through facts and instincts how to handle this,” he added. A priority for Trump administration officials in recent months has been to try to forge a front of traditional US allies against Beijing to help him in the talks. But although the EU and Japan share many of the US’s concerns about alleged unfair trade practices by China, Mr Trump has done little to foster goodwill.

In particular, there is a running threat by the US to impose tariffs on imports of cars and auto parts on national security grounds.

Mr Trump will also hold bilateral meetings with Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, and German chancellor Angela Merkel, but any discussion of tightening the screws on China could be overshadowed by the issue of auto levies.

“I don’t see him coming to Buenos Aires and lining up with Abe and Merkel and Macron and [the UK’s Theresa] May to say we’re having a united front against China,” said Ivo Daalder, president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

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Other pillars of Mr Trump’s foreign policy are in doubt. His effort to court a better relationship with Mr Putin suffered another setback recently amid renewed tensions with Ukraine, forcing the US president to cancel a bilateral meeting with his Russian counterpart.

The G20 is also the first big international appearance by Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman since the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which has complicated Mr Trump’s push to reinforce ties with Riyadh as a counterweight to Iran.

Even with Mr Xi, Mr Trump has been disappointed that his efforts to reel the Chinese president towards a deal last year at his Mar-a-Lago resort have backfired.

“In 2017 he put his money in each of their baskets but now they are creating problems for him,” Mr Daalder said of Mr Putin, Mr Xi and Prince Mohammed.

As he weighs a possible deal with Mr Xi, Mr Trump also has to contend with a familiar split among his advisers.

Mr Kudlow and Steven Mnuchin, his Treasury secretary, have been pushing for the president to reach an agreement, while China hawks such as Robert Lighthizer, the influential US trade representative, and Peter Navarro, White House trade adviser, are reluctant to accommodate Beijing.

Mike Pence, the vice-president, has also taken a hardline position against China, including at the recent Apec summit in Papua New Guinea. Senior Democratic senators on Capitol Hill, including Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, warned Mr Trump not to cave in.

“We urge you to not back down for the sake of a weak and meaningless agreement should China fail to make real concessions,” they said. Ultimately, the prospects of an agreement to defuse trade tensions with Mr Xi will rest on the judgment of a US president who is as impulsive as he is unpredictable.

“A normal president might feel the pressure . . . but he [Mr Trump] believes he has the upper hand,” said Danielle Pletka, vice-president for foreign and defence policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think-tank.  “I suspect that Donald Trump will be satisfied either way — he’s happy doing deals with the Chinese, and he’s happy bashing the Chinese.”